|Tuesday, 21 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 4 , 2006
 Greece funds new research post at LSE.
LONDON 4/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday that his department will fund a new academic post at the London School of Economics and Political Science to boost research by the university's Hellenic Observatory on Greek economic relations within southeast Europe.
The new post for a research fellow, similar to a senior lecturer or associate professor, will enable an experienced academic to spend time at the Observatory producing high quality research for up to one year, the LSE said in a statement.
"This is a major initiative, a central policy choice as part of our economy's outward-looking approach in expanding and making use of potential within the countries of southeastern Europe," Alogoskoufis said in the UK capital.
The minister is an alumnus of LSE. He obtained an MSc in Economics in 1978 and a PhD in Economics in 1981. He holds a chair in Economics at the Athens University of Economics and Business.
'This is a timely boost for LSE's focus on southeast Europe: it gives us greater specialization in an area of economic policy of increasing relevance to the European Union as a whole," Professor Kevin Featherstone, director of the Hellenic Observatory, said.
"Coming after the announcement of a fellowship funded by the National Bank of Greece, the new Chair in Contemporary Turkish Studies, and the specialist expertise of colleagues elsewhere in the School, this enables us to make a valuable contribution to relevant policy debates,' Featherstone added.
Also welcoming Alogoskoufis was the director of LSE, Howard Davies.
"LSE's links with Greece are long-established: this post will boost them further. The debate to come about the future of the EU will inevitably focus on Europe's Eastern frontiers. This post will help us to contribute to that debate. We are most grateful to Mr Alogoskoufis and the Greek government for making it possible," Davies noted.
Established in 1996, the Hellenic Observatory addresses a range of topics of interest to academic, media, financial and business sectors. Its core aim is to promote teaching and research on the contemporary politics, economics and society of Greece and Cyprus.
LSE has around 215 Greek students each year - around 190 master's or research students, and the remainder undergraduates.
Finmin urges investment in Greece as regional hub: Later in the day, Alogoskoufis urged investors to place their funds in southeastern Europe using Greece as a strategic ally.
"Greece is no longer an isolated economy with a population of 10,000. It lies at the centre of an area with a population of 140 million, has been a member of the European Union for 25 years, and is also a member of the eurozone. Greece has the most developed social policy and economic infrastructure in southeastern Europe," he told a seminar arranged in London by the British-Hellenic Chamber.
The minister underlined that 5.22 billion euros were invested in the Athens bourse in 2005. In January-February 2006, foreign investors placed 1.1 billion euros in the Greek capital market.
Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou told the seminar that Greece was working to create an education system to match standards abroad through measures taken over the last two years; and Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianides called on investors to make Greece their centre for regional operations.
 Bakoyannis in Pristina, stresses support for Kosovo talks
PRISTINA 4/3/2006 (ANA )Greece's foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis on Friday underlined Athens' support for the negotiations underway in Vienna to decide the future of Kosovo, during meetings in Pristina with Kosovo's leadership and political parties.
She also underlined that the talks should take place without pressing deadlines, so that the result might have a solid basis, while she highlighted issues of security and stability in the region.
Bakoyannis arrived in Pristina for the last top of a tour of Balkan countries that included visits to Sarajevo and Belgrade.
Meeting Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and the leader of Kosovo's main opposition leader Hashim Thaci, who heads the Democratic Party of Kosovo, the Greek minister urged reinforcement of a process for applying the international community's criteria and called for protection of the cultural heritage of the Serb minority, while underlining Greece's support for the European prospects of the western Balkans.
Sejdiu pledged to respect the rights of minorities in Kosovo and stressed that he intends to seek good neighborly relations and to promote Kosovo's rapprochement with Euro-Atlantic structures.
Thaci, on his part, reiterated that "the will of the people for independence must be respected," and appeared convinced that independence for Kosovo would be achieved within 2006.
During her visit, Bakoyannis also met the head of the UN administration in Kosovo, Unmik chief Soren Jessen Peterssen while a meeting is pending with Kosovo's former premier Bajram Kosumi, who resigned unexpectedly on Wednesday.
Her agenda in Pristina additionally includes meetings with the chief representative of Kosovo Serbs Oliver Ivanovic - head of the Serb List for Kosovo-Metohija - and the leader of the ORA party Veton Surroi, while she is scheduled to lay a wreath on the tomb of the late Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova and visit the Greek command centre of NATO KFOR troops.
 Dep. foreign minister on visit to Istanbul
ISTANBUL 4/3/2006 (ANA )Greece's new deputy foreign minister Theodoros Kassimis, who joined the government in the latest cabinet reshuffle, arrived in Istanbul on Friday to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the larger institutions run by the city's Greek community.
After talks with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Kassimis underlined the Greek government's support for the Patriarch's efforts and the Patriarchate's global action, which he said helped multicultural society on a global level.
He also stressed that the Patriarchate should be allowed to operate without hindrance to its social and religious activity, within Turkey.
Kassimis visited the Baloukli hospitals, a monastery at Baloukli, outside Istanbul's Byzantine walls and three Greek community schools.
 Deputy FM meets renowned Greek Cypriot doctor Kypros Nikolaidis
4/3/2006 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis met in London on Friday with renowned Greek Cypriot doctor Kypros Nikolaidis and discussed the implementation of programs with Hellenic Aid with him, with the purpose of transferring know-how and offering health services to the societies of developing countries, according to an announcement by the foreign ministry.
These programs will implement the "Target of the Millenium of the UN", which concerns genetic health and, in parallel, they will support the presence of Hellenic Aid and Greek culture in crucial regions such as the Black Sea countries.
Nikolaidis discovered neck transparency, the pregenetic check for the Down syndrome, as well as the embryo intervention method with laser. He is one of the strongest personalities of modern medicine and his discoveries are being used in over 80 countries through the "Fetal Medicine Centre" Foundation.
The centre trains thousands of doctors in the world, implementing telemedicine methods and offering 53 scholarships a year to young people from developing countries and promoting, at the same time, Greek humanity and the values of modern Greek culture.
 Papoulias briefed by interior minister
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was briefed by Interior, public administration and decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Friday over a new civil servants code and as well as on a public administration operational plan.
Papoulias later met with the presidium of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the largest trade umbrella group in the country, where he was briefed on the union's positions over a variety of issues.
Following the first meeting, Pavlopoulos told reporters that the president was kept abreast of all matters concerning public administration, given that Papoulias places great importance on the effort being made for public administration to meet the citizens' expectations and the country's developmental course.
Regarding the civil servants code, Pavlopoulos noted that major changes concerned the grade scale, transfers, training, and a disciplinary body.
He also said that he anticipated that an agreement will have been reached with ADEDY (the civil servants' union) in the coming week, allowing for the tabling of draft that will meet with consensus.
Regarding the operational plan, Pavlopoulos aid a separate one is being drafted "so as to make significant changes towards absorbing Community funds," and with the main emphasis on e-Governance initiatives, which aim to reduce bureaucracy and provide better services for citizens.
Meanwhile, GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos said his union's priority at present remains he signing of a national collective bargaining agreement and respect by employers' groups of sector-wide agreements, a reference to a recent announcement by the managements of Greece's six largest banks saying they would seek individual agreements, i.e. between a bank and its employees' group.
 President Papoulias briefed by defense minister
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias had a scheduled meeting with Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Friday, who briefed him on a series of issues concerning the ministry.
Meimarakis told reporters that the meeting had been arranged during a recent visit to Ioannina to discuss "matters that had arisen at that time".
He pointed out that the president had a strong interest in issues concerning the armed forces and announced that Papoulias will be visiting the defense ministry to be briefed on all security and defense aspects in more detail.
 Gov't on collective bargaining talks, criticises Papandreou over local gov't mergers issue
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The government on Friday reiterated its position of backing dialogue between so-called "social partners", especially employers' groups and unions, as foreseen by the law.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros again stressed, nevertheless, that the government cannot and would not intervene in collective bargaining negotiations, while he dismissed calls for the government to get involved, illegally, as he said.
Meanwhile, referring to an unrelated issue, namely, protests in some provincial communities around the country demanding their administrative autonomy from current local government entities, Antonaros noted that main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou "seems to have forgotten that the Kapodistrias (local government merger legal framework) was voted in by a PASOK government".
The spokesman also told reporters that Papandreou, in an address to the union of municipalities (KEDKE) in October 2004, called for the government to solve the "Vrahasi issue", a reference to a small community on Crete whose residents generated the most virulent opposition to its merger within a larger administrative entity.
"Serious politics is impossible with such popularist approaches," he said.
Vrahasi was one of four communities allowed to form their own administrative entity following a decision by the interior and public administration ministry days ago.
 Gov't distorting the truth on "Kapodistrias", main opposition says
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis accused the government of "distorting the truth" and "of political cowardice" regarding 'Kapodistrias', the legal framework surrounding local government organization, on Friday.
Athanassakis' comments were made in response to Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, who earlier in the day had said that it was PASOK governments that had voted on Kapodistrias.
"The government is either lying or telling half-truths which are even worse than lies, in order to shift the burden onto PASOK and [PASOK President] George Papandreou for its unacceptable client relations policies regarding Kapodistrias," Athanassakis said.
 'Time to make leaps,' tourism minister says after meeting with PM
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had his first meeting on Friday with the new tourism development minister, Fani Palli Petralia, following the recent Cabinet reshuffle.
Petralia told reporters after the meeting that this year's tourism season was anticipated to be successful, adding that the "omens are very good".
She said that tourism was Greece's "heavy industry", and noted the existing strategic plan aiming at improving the competitive-ness and quality of Greek tourism.
"In the past two years, steps (forward) were made. Now it is time to make leaps," Petralia stressed.
Tourism ministry sec. gen. appointed: Lawyer Maria Yanniri was named on Friday as secretary general of the Tourism Development ministry.
Yanniri has served in the past as a senior staff member at the national economy and finance ministry, and as special consultant at the Culture ministry (sports portfolio) and health and welfare ministry.
 Public order minister replies to criticism on appointments in Greek Police leadership
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, replying on Friday to criticism by the main opposition PASOK party on appointments in the leadership of the Greek Police (ELAS), said "no one was treated unfairly. The appointments took place with the sole criteria of merit and dignity."
Polydoras further said that "the pursuit of effectiveness in decreasing crime and consolidating a feeling of security for citizens cannot be the exclusive privilege of PASOK which has no legitimacy, in any case, in making such declarations, due to a guilty past. I would expect PASOK to praise the appointments and not to embark on social criticism, meaning gossip."
An announcement by PASOK said that following the appointment of senior Greek Police officials, the operation "partisanship-lack of merit" in the security forces has been completed in a dramatic way in the most important and sensitive services.
PASOK's announcement also said that "unfortunately, instead of the main concern of the appointments being the increase of the effectiveness of ELAS in combating crime and consolidating a feeling of security among citizens, the dominant factor was persecution, the promotion of 'our guys', of fellow villagers and relatives and the settling of the intraparty scores of ND."
 Ceremony marks change of command at army general staff
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)A ceremony handing over command of the army's general staff (GES) was held on Friday at the army cadets' academy in southeast Athens, as retiring Gen. Nikolaos Douvas stepped aside for his successor, Lt.-Gen. Dimitrios Grapsas.
The ceremony was attended by the defense ministry's civil and military leadership, including Minister Vangelis Meimarakis, as well as the chiefs of the other armed forces branches, police and the coast guard.
 Health minister visits Alexandroupolis General Hospital
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Minister of Health and Social Solidarity Dimitris Avramopoulos visited the Alexandroupolis General Hospital in northern Greece on Friday within the context of familiarizing himself with the country's hospitals and health care facilities since he recently assumed the health ministerial post.
Avramopoulos met with the hospital's administration as well as representatives of the medical and nursing staff.
He emphasized that the purpose of his visit is to see for himself a hospital which is considered to be the biggest, most modern and best in the country.
According to Avramopoulos, much has been achieved in health care in the past years but much remains to be completed, such as improving infrastructure and providing more staff for hospitals.
 Transport and communications ministry secretary general resigns
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Transport and Communications ministry Secretary General Yiannis Golias submitted his resignation to Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Friday.
In his letter of resignation, which was accepted by the minister and had been expected for some time, Golias invokes personal reasons.
The announcement for the new Transport and Communications secretary general is expected to take place in about 10 days.
 Wanted former justice to seek release from jail in France
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Former Greek magistrate Constantina Bourboulia, wanted in Greece in connection with a trial-rigging and bribery case, has applied to French courts to be released on bail. Bourboulia is now being held in a French jail pending her extradition to Greece on the basis of a European arrest warrant.
Earlier this week, a Paris appeals court ordered execution of the warrant and said that Bourboulia should be handed over to Greek authorities within 10 days, unless she lodges an appeal with a higher court by Monday.
According to French prosecuting authorities, her application for temporary release from jail was lodged on February 27, before the extradition ruling was made. The hearing is set for next Wednesday and will be held without the presence of either Bourboulia or a lawyer representing the Greek state, since it is quite separate from the European warrant and does not concern the Greek state.
 Human trafficking degrades human dignity, FM says
NEW YORK 4/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)Human trafficking degrades human dignity and safety while serving as a serious source of regional instability, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said in a message read by Greek Ambassador to the UN Adamantios Vassilakis, during a meeting held at UN headquarters on Thursday.
The meeting, organized by the Greek non-governmental organization Centre for the Protection of Human Rights (KEPAD) which fills an advisory role at the UN, was held within the framework of the 50th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
In her message, Bakoyannis cited economic and social problems as one of the causes of this "modern type of slavery", while another cause is the demand for sexual and other services which creates an economic motive for trafficking.
She noted that the Balkans have been a region of origin, destination and passage for victims.
Referring to Greece, Bakoyannis said that both the government and the society of citizens in cooperation with international organizations, other governments and non-governmental organizations are implementing a comprehensive action plan aimed at combating human trafficking on all levels: prevention, protection and accountability.
According to the minister, the foreign ministry allocated ¬ 3.1 million for the fight against human trafficking in 2004.
She presented specific measures the Greek government has taken to date, which include agreements with neighboring countries, support for victims, funding of support programs in the countries of origin, support of state and private shelters, public awareness programs, training of judiciary and police on such issues, and providing free legal advice to victims.
In closing, Bakoyannis said that the measures she has referred to are simply indicative.
To effectively eliminate this phenomenon, everyone must work together in order to build and establish stability, a state of law and security in the countries of origin, so that economic development and prosperity can do away with phenomena that offend human dignity, she said.
The main theme of the conference involved regional cooperation and combating human trafficking (of women and children) in Southeastern and Eastern Europe.
The conference was organized in cooperation with the Greek Permanent Representation at the UN and was co-funded by the Greek Foreign Ministry and its agency Hellenic Aid.
 Financial NewsGreek economy to grow by 3.8 pct this year, FinMin says
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Greek economy will grow by 3.8 percent this year, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.
Addressing a conference on the Greek economy, organized by the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in London, Alogoskoufis said capital inflows by foreign funds totaled 5.2 billion euros last year, "a fact underlining their confidence in Greek economic prospects". The Greek minister also said foreign capital inflows in the Athens Stock Exchange totaled 1.1 billion euros in the first two months of 2006.
The government's privatization program for 2006 included a full privatization of Emporiki Bank, the sale of a further equity stake in ATE bank and the listing of Post Savings Bank and DEPA in the Athens Stock Exchange.
Alogoskoufis was the main speaker in a conference on "Greece, your strategic partner in Southeastern Europe: Investment prospects and business opportunities", attended by representatives of London's business community.
 ECOFIN to 'welcome' Greek efforts to reduce deficit
BRUSSELS 4/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The European Union's finance ministers who will meet on March 14 to approve the European Commission's report on Greece's economic stability program, are expected to welcome the efforts made by Greek authorities to date to reduce the fiscal deficit, well-informed diplomatic sources said on Friday.
 Greek GDP up 3.7 pct in fourth quarter 2005, yr/yr
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Greek economy grew by 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, down 0.2 percent from the third quarter of the same year, Euro stat said on Friday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report presented in Brussels, said Eurozone's economy grew by 1.7 percent in the October-December period, while the growth rate in the EU-25 was 1.8 percent in the same period. Eurostat said both the Eurozone's and the EU-25's figures were up 0.3 percent compared with the third quarter of 2005.
Lithuania recorded the highest growth rate (8.3 pct), followed by Slovakia (7.5 pct) and Hungary (4.3 pct), while France (1.2 pct), Belgium (1.5 pct), Germany and Holland (1.6 pct) recorded the lowest growth rates.
Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary and Holland recorded the biggest quarterly growth increases in the fourth quarter of 2005, while Greece was the only country to record a decline and Germany's GDP was unchanged
 Incomes policy to parliament
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The government on Friday submitted its 2006 incomes policy to parliament that allows wage rises for the public sector of 3% on base pay.
The new wage levels for 2006 and backpay dating to January 1 will be paid in April, Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas told reporters.
The government's incomes policy has been given to parliament in the form of an amendment to a tax bill.
Main opposition blasts gov't:The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) later criticized the government for the content of its incomes policy, and the manner in which it was sent to the house.
"The finance ministry announced its incomes policy by fax, a policy that does not even cover inflation, and it sent it to parliament on Friday afternoon, just before a three-day holiday weekend," PASOK economy spokeswoman Vasso Papandreou said in a statement.
 Business delegation to Taiwan in April
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry announced on Friday that it is arranging a business delegation to Taiwan on April 9-16 in cooperation with Taipei's representation in Greece as part of a drive to promote Greek products abroad.
 Amendment tabled in Parliament setting 3 pc increase in civil servants basic salary
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)An amendment has been tabled in Parliament setting a 3 percent increase in the basic salary of civil servants. The amendment was submitted in the bill titled "Arrangements for the tax status of associated companies and other clauses."
The terms of the amendment will result in an annual cost of about 451,500,000 euros for the state budget.
 Building activity up 33.4 pct in volume last year
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Building activity jumped 33.4 pct in volume, and rose by 17.5 pct in the number of permits, last year compared with 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
NSS, in its report, said a total of 95,730 permits were issued last year, with Attica (29.1 pct), Crete (19.4 pct) and Thessaly (19.7 pct) recording the biggest percentage increase in 2005.
Building activity in the public sector accounted for 2.1 percent of total volume last year, while activity in the private sector rose 17.6 pct (based on the number of permits) and 35.2 pct in volume.
 Car sales up 0.1 pct in January-February, yr/yr
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Car sales (both new and used ones) rose 0.1 percent in the first two months of 2006 to 68,424 units, compared with the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
NSS, in its report said motorcycle sales rose 2.6 percent to 8,476 units in the January-February period, from 8,264 units in the corresponding period in 2005.
 Gov't aims to double capacity of renewable energy sources by 2010
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The share of Renewable Energy Sources in the country's energy market is currently 10 percent of total electricity production, from 5.5 percent five years ago, including large hydroelectric projects, with the aim to reach 20.1 pct by 2010 according to a community directive, Development ministry secretary-general Nikos Stephanou said on Thursday.
Addressing a European Wind Energy Conference & Exhibition in Athens, Stephanou said Renewable Energy Sources based in Greece have a capacity of 615 MW, and stressed plans were to boost this capacity to 800 MW by the end of the year. Stephanou said 80-85 pct of power was covered by wind power parks.
The Greek government has submitted plans with the European Commission envisaging the operation of Renewable Energy Sources' units with a capacity of 3,000 MW by 2010, an increase of 270 percent from current production levels.
Under the plan, energy production by Renewable Energy Sources will contribute in the reduction of hydrocarbon emissions of around 4.0 million tones annually in Greece and the saving of 80 million euros from the purchase of gas emission rights.
Promoting solar energy around the country, and in particular Greek islands, was a main priority in a strategy to promote Renewable Energy Source, Stephanou said.
The Greek government has already approved funding for more than 140 Renewable Energy Sources' projects, budgeted at 600 million euros, in the framework of a "Competitiveness" Business Program.
KKE supports increase of renewable energy sources: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga expressed support to the increase of renewable energy sources so as to decrease the country's energy dependence and to protect the environment, during a meeting on Friday with a delegation of the Group for the Dissemination of Renewable Energy Sources (ELFORES), headed by vice president Nikos Vasilakos, in light of the relevant draft bill being promoted by the government.
However, she expressed her party's strong opposition to the commercialization of the social commodity of energy, which is being promoted in general by the European Union framework of "deregulation" of the electric power market.
KKE maintains that "the government's draft bill is promoting this anti-popular direction and for this reason KKE rejects it categorically. The exit lies at the other end of the EU's policy, in the unified and exclusively state-controlled energy agency which will constitute popular property and will aim at the combined satisfaction of popular needs in the framework of the popular economy."
 Development minister urges petroleum companies to ensure that price discounts reach consumers
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas strongly urged petroleum companies to ensure that price discounts reach the consumers. Speaking on Friday at an event organized by the Federation of Petroleum Companies of Greece on security in fuel transport, the minister called on company representatives to systematically activate all apparatuses at their disposal, such as inspectors, and to carry out checks to enable discounts made to reach the final beneficiary and for low prices to be achieved.
"Because sometimes this does not happen," the minister said, adding that "you must respect your customers. Meaning that you must ensure that good prices reach the consumer and we must also protect the consumer. Our role is to be useful and not pleasant."
The president of the Federation of Petroleum Companies of Greece, Nikos Mamidakis, said that the sector has become sensitized and is contributing to its upgrading and stressed the importance of a program for modernizing equipment to enable the sector to adjust to new conditions.
Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Drakoulis Fountoukakos said that needs for liquid fuel are increasing and, consequently, care for transport security is necessary.
 EU transport commissioner gives Greece until end of March to submit Olympic Airlines plan
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The European Union Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot has given Greece until the end of March to submit a specific plan on the Olympic Airlines company.
Otherwise, it will face the possibility of being referred to the European Court for illegal state subsidization amounting to millions of euros for the former Olympic Airways company.
The EU commissioner made this statement on the sidelines of the informal EU Council of Transport Ministers held in Austria.
The statement reveals that the Commission wants one smaller Olympic company without state subsidization and with the majority of the new company's shares in the hands of private individuals.
 Security Staff Federation's 24-hour strike declared illegal and abusive by court
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The inconvenience experienced by passengers due to travel by air appears to be reaching its end since the 24-hour strike started at 2 p.m. on Friday by employees checking passengers and their luggage at the country's airports will stop.
The strike called by the Security Staff Federation of Greece, which had already begun, was declared illegal and abusive by a court on Friday night and, consequently, employees are obliged to return to work.
The strike had caused problems at airports, particularly those dealing with international flights, while long queues of irritated passengers were created at checkpoints since checks were only being carried out by skeleton staff.
 Bank of Piraeus completes three-year bond issue
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Bank of Piraeus on Friday announced the successful completion of a three-year bond, worth 500 million euros, in the framework of an EMTN (Euro Medium Term Note) program to raise long-term capital. The issuer of the bond loan was Piraeus Group Finance Plc.
International markets showed increased interest in the issue, with the bookbuilding reaching 1.0 billion euros. A total 75 investors from 16 countries participated in the bookbuilding process, with 83 percent of capital coming from foreign banks and institutional investors. The issue establishes Bank of Piraeus was a debt issuer in international markets.
The three-year bond carries a floating rate (three-month Euribor plus 20 basis points) will be trade in the Luxembourg Stock Exchange. Barclays Capital and UBS Investment Bank were the main underwriters of the issue.
Athens Bourse Close
 Stepped up traffic measures for 3-day weekend
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Traffic police and authorities will be on high alert over the coming three-day holiday as tens of thousands of motorists are expected to exit the country's largest urban areas, especially greater Athens.
The most important measures includes an extra lane on outbound highways from Athens as well as added police patrols.
Most trucks and heavy machinery are banned from national roadways beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and lasting until the same evening at 10 p.m.; and from 3 p.m. Monday until 11 p.m. the same evening. No ban is in effect for Sunday.
 Street markets to operate normally on Monday
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Street markets will operate normally on Monday, the first day of Lent, as is the case every year. This was announced on Friday by the Panhellenic Federation of Unions of Farm Product Producers and Street Market Sellers.
 Flooding reported in Evros
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Waters on the Evros River, in extreme northeast Greece, continued to rise overnight, with authorities measuring the highest level eight centimeters above the 5.70-metre alert limit.
Officials also reported that they would open two dikes to reduce the river's flow, deliberately flooding some 450 hectares of land.
Some 250 hectares of land are already under floodwaters at the Psathades site, while the city of Didymoticho is without fresh water.
 Sea planes to begin new flights to Ionian islands from Patra on March 10
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Air Sea Lines/Pegasus Aviation company will begin new flights with sea planes to the Ionian islands from the port of Patra, in western Greece, as of March 10. The company has been carrying out flights to Corfu, Ioannina and Paxi from Faliro so far.
According to a relevant announcement, flights from Patra will initially have Corfu as their destination, but Lefkada and Ithaki will be included in the company's flight program very soon.
The ticket for the Patra-Corfu flight will cost 80 euros for a single flight. This price will be charged until March 31, 2006, to enable passengers from Patra to become acquainted with sea planes.
 Parliament to mark Woman's Day, 50 years of women's vote
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Greek Parliament plans to organize an event on International Woman's Day on March 8 to celebrate the 50th anniversary since Greek women won the right to vote.
A special parliamentary session will be addressed by Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and the leader of the Synaspismos party Alekos Alavanos.
This will be followed by the presentation of a book "Half a century of women's votes, half a century of women in Parliament" by Athens university Prof. Maro Pantelidou-Malouta and the screening of a documentary on women's emancipation by the Parliament Channel.
Greek women were first able to vote on February 19, 1956 after decades of fierce struggle, marking the first instance when the universal suffrage established in the Greek Constitution of 1864 was extended to fully include women.
The decree given women civil rights was first passed in 1952 but could not be enforced in the elections of November the same year because the electoral register had not been updated. The first woman to enter the Greek Parliament was Eleni Skoura, who was elected in a repeat election held in Thessaloniki in 1953.
Holy Synod voices concerns over Kosovo, bomb hoax interrupts meeting
The Holy Synod voiced concerns over the fate of people and monuments in Kosovo during its meeting on Friday, before it was unexpectedly interrupted due to a bomb hoax.
Regarding Kosovo, the Holy Synod called on all involved governments to carefully handle the situation and to prevent bloody conflict between the Serb and Albanian communities, and to protect religious monuments -both Christian and Muslim- from extremists' destructive behavior.
Finally, it said that the Church of Greece is deeply satisfied with the position of the Greek government and all political forces in the country since they seem particularly sensitive to this subject.
The meeting, however, came to an abrupt halt when an unidentified caller said there was a bomb at Petraki Monastery where the Holy Synod was convening.
The police arrived immediately and searched the building. No bomb was found.
 Brunei scholar's lecture part of Asia-Europe Foundation program
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)One of the first lectures in Athens within the "European Lecture Tour" framework, organized by the ambitious Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), took place on Thursday evening at the Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER), with Brunei academician Teo Siew Yean addressing an audience on the issue of "Unfair Compensation Between the Two Genders in Europe and Asia: A Comparative Analysis".
Yean, a distinguished faculty member of the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, located in the small oil-rich state in northwest Borneo, stressed that the wage/pay gap in Europe and Asia between men and women is between 30 to 40 percent.
Additionally, she countered criticism that other economic issues, such as unemployment and inflation, are more important and germane at present, by saying that loss of competitiveness due to the wage disparity between the genders accounts for tens of billions of pounds in lost productivity in Britain alone, according to a much quoted study commissioned by the Blair government.
The UK and Australia-educated scholar was introduced by IIER director Charalambos Tsardanidis, while Plamen Tonchev, the head of the organization's Asia Unit, coordinated the lecture.
 Three more swans test positive for H5N1 in Greece
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)The Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) in Weybridge, London on Friday confirmed that three more tissue samples from dead swans sent by Greece were infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.
The Greek agriculture ministry said the three samples were taken from birds found in the Evros River delta last Friday.
Meanwhile, authorities in northern Greece reported finding four more dead swans infected with the H5 virus and said samples had been sent to the CRL for confirmation.
One of the four swans was found in Pythio, Didimotichos in the Evros prefecture, another at the 11th guard post on the Evros River and two in the region of Agios Georgios in Imathia.
 New board signals restarting of Concern Group for Modernisation of Society
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)A new board signals the restarting of the Group for the Modernization of Society (OPEK), a think tank which was established in the early '90s.
The president of the new board is university professor Antonis Liakos and its vice president is former PASOK party Eurodeputy Mirsini Zorba.
OPEK constitutes a group of political thought. It is not a political party, nor has it an organized political party trend. It is responding to a progressive political tradition existing both in this and in other countries, according to OPEK representatives.
 Two gunmen rob supermarket in Peristeri, injure customer
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)An armed robbery occurred at the "Sklavenitis" supermarket in Kifisou avenue in the Athens district of Peristeri shortly after 7.30 on Friday night.
Two gunmen entered the premises and seized an unspecified amount of money. During their escape, they fired three shots into the supermarket, injuring a customer in the leg.
 Soccer fan receives jail sentence for violent behavior
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)A 34-year old man from Florina in northwestern Greece received a jail sentence on Friday for violent behavior during a soccer match between PAOK and Olympiakos last week.
It is the first time in Thessaloniki that a "troublemaker in the stadium" is sent to jail.
Another three suspects were found guilty for throwing objects into the playing field and have received sentences ranging from 7-15 months.
A fifth man was also sentenced to 15 months in prison for the possession and sale of a forged ticket.
Finally, a minor who was also arrested for throwing a bottle of water at Olympiakos' soccer players at the end of the first half, will be tried in September by the Thessaloniki Juvenile Court.
 Thessaloniki prefect hopes to fly Balkans biggest kite
Athens 4/3/2006 (ANA)Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis hopes to raise the biggest kite in all the Balkans into Thessaloniki's skies when the 'Clean Monday' holiday comes around next week.
The kite will measure 25 square metres and the prefecture has organized an event at the statue of Alexander the Great on the coast at 13:00, where it will try to get it into the air.
 Government disappointed over T/C side's reaction to Paris agreement
NICOSIA 4/3/2006 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman George Lillikas said here Friday that the government did not expect a negative reaction by the Turkish Cypriot side as regards the agreement between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN SG Kofi Annan in Paris.
''We are disappointed to see the stance adopted by part of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, which consists a rejection of all those we discussed and agreed with the UN SG in Paris,'' Lillikas said.
Pointing out that the UN SG agreed with the issues submitted by the Greek Cypriot side, Lillikas added that ''we expect some ideas by the UN and the issues the Turkish Cypriots would like to submit for the talks.''
''If there is no goodwill from the Turkish Cypriot side no progress can be made,'' Lillikas said, noting that the Greek Cypriot side expects the Turkish side to clarify its intentions.
Regarding the procedure, Lillikas said that there will be two processes in parallel, one aiming at preparing the talks with the purpose of bridging the gap between the two sides and the other which is related with the de-mining, disengagement of forces, demilitarization and Famagusta.
''These issues could be described as measures which would assist creating a better climate and will help the effort for the preparation of the talks,'' Lillikas noted.
He added that ''the two procedures will proceed simultaneously and in parallel,'' noting that ''while progress will be made in the preparation of the talks, the implementation of the other measures will be easier.''
''We are ready to enforce the whole agreement,'' he pointed out. Furthermore, the spokesman said UN Undersecretary General on Political Affairs Ibrahim Gambari will travel to Brussels for contacts with EU officials, to Moscow and other decision-making centers, while UN Secretary General's Special Representative to Cyprus Michael Moller will travel to Greece and Turkey, as well as to Brussels, where he will request the involvement of EU experts in preparing the talks.
 Cypriot FM: Turkey should rise to the height of circumstances
NICOSIA 4/3/2006 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou has called on the Turkish side to rise to the height of the circumstances and cooperate with UN SG Kofi Annan for Cyprus.
Responding to questions over the Turkish Cypriot reaction as regards the outcome of the Paris meeting between Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Annan, the foreign minister noted there is no doubt that the joint statement issued in Paris was an agreed document between the Cyprus Republic and the Secretary General.
He said the document contains indications that these efforts initiated by the Cypriot President have at least some support from the T/C side.
Noting that Ankara has remained unusually "astounded", Iacovou urged the Turkish side "to realize how serious the moment is, rise to the height of the circumstances and participate in the process, which is supported by the UN".
Concerning the objections of the Turkish Cypriot side that the issue of Turkish occupied Varosha and demilitarization were discussed, Iacovou said preparatory work on the agenda was made by the UN and these were only a few of the many issues discussed.
He noted that the two issues "were discussed in detail in Paris and that is why they found their way in the joint statement".
As regards Turkey's proposals he noted that no one in good faith would still think that Abdullah Gul's proposals still have any place in the international public opinion.
On the visits of UN SG Special Representative Michael Moller to Ankara and Athens, he said that they were announced before the meeting in Paris with a view to discuss the outcome of the meeting.
 US and UN officials discuss situation in Cyprus
WASHINGTON 4/3/2006 (CNA/ANA)UN deputy Secretary-General for political affairs, Ibrahim Gambari and US Deputy Assistant Secretary Matt Bryza reviewed the situation in Cyprus, US State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli has said.
Responding to questions during his daily briefing on Thursday, on the talks at the State Department for the Cyprus issue, Ereli said: "They
reviewed the situation in Cyprus. And we certainly reiterated our view that we support reunification of the island based on the Annan plan, and we are supportive of efforts by the parties to resume that effort in earnest now".
He added that ''the UN is in the lead on this. We look to the UN and the Secretary-General's special representative to work with the
communities of the island to generate their ideas about how, on the basis of the Annan plan, they can work up something that is acceptable to everybody and that would pass in a referendum''.
''We continue to be supportive of that effort. To the extent that we can help move it forward, we'll do so'', he concluded.